LOS ANGELES, October 26, 2022 – As the No. 1 app for daily prayer, Pray.com is partnering with renowned researchers to study the benefits that digitally enabled prayer can have on mental health and well-being during our current pandemic-induced mental health crisis. With approximately 26% of the U.S. adult population suffering from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year, according to John Hopkins Medicine, and at a time when people are more interconnected digitally than in-person, Pray.com believes it’s important to scientifically study the benefits of digital engagement with prayer for the first time.
“We know from experience and the existing anecdotal research, that prayer, meditation and consumption of faith-based content is beneficial to your mental and spiritual well-being,” said Founder and CEO Steve Gatena. “We are excited to contribute to the scientific knowledge to further examine the science behind digital prayer and its impacts on mental, physical and spiritual health, an area of research that has been largely overlooked.”
Partnering with established scientists in this space, Pray.com will conduct multiple first-of-their-kind studies to assess the impact of digitally-enabled prayer on mental health and wellness, bringing together science around mental health and digital prayer.
Dr. Jennifer Huberty, former Director of Science at Calm, who recently joined Pray.com as Fractional Chief Science Advisor, is leading the company’s research efforts in partnership with Dr. Todd Hall, a professor of psychology at Biola University and a faculty affiliate at the Harvard Human Flourishing Program; Dr. Joshua Hook, Associate Professor of Counseling Psychology at the University of North Texas; and Dr. Daryl R. Van Tongeren, Associate Professor of Psychology at Hope College.
“I am very passionate about mental health,” said Dr. Huberty. “If we can show that spiritual well-being is linked to mental health benefits, then Pray.com, with its spiritual well-being offerings, could be a strategy to help people improve their mental wellness.”
One clinical study in the process is a randomized control trial in which participants with high levels of stress will be assigned to one of three groups to determine the effects of the app on stress and mental health. Findings from this study will add to the scientific knowledge about how spiritual well-being may reduce stress and improve mental health outcomes. Another study is exploring the feasibility of Pray.com in ethnic minorities. Findings from this study will help inform the product enhancements to ensure continued inclusivity of the app’s content and experience.
In addition to these studies, Dr. Hall is conducting a cross-sectional survey based on Harvard’s Human Flourishing Program to help understand self-reported user perceptions of the app and its benefits for spiritual and mental wellness.
“The essence of the research I have done in my career has been about the well-being of people and how we become the best version of ourselves. After countless hours of conducting research on social connection and flourishing, I am more convinced that relationships are the key to flourishing in life and work,” said Dr. Hall. “This is exactly what Pray.com is doing with these research projects. By understanding its users’ needs the platform gives them an opportunity to connect with others and improve their mental health, which translates into other areas of their lives.”
As the first religious mental health and wellness app to do so, Pray.com’s purpose in these studies is to drive scientific insight into the impact digitally enabled prayer has on mental health and to use its findings to raise more awareness of ways to strengthen mental health by practicing the healthy habit of daily prayer.